A vegetarian does not eat meat or fish, but there are different types of vegetarian. Some consume eggs and dairy products, while the strictest kind, vegans, eat no animal produce at all, including honey. Some people call themselves vegetarians, but they consume fish.
It is not necessary to eat meat to get all the nutrients needed for good health. A person who chooses not to eat meat may enjoy better health, because they will eat more plant-based foods, and because they may be more active in making healthy choices.
A vegetarian diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, leading to a longer life expectancy. It may also lead to weight loss. Apart from health considerations, people become vegetarians for a range of reasons. Producing vegetarian food is more ecologically sustainable, and it reduces damage to the environment. Many people stop eating meat for ideological, ethical, or religious reasons. But often, the focus is on health. Here are some ways in which avoiding meat products can enhance a person’s health. A lower body weight: A study of 38,000 people showed that fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans had a lower body mass index (BMI) than meat-eaters.
Healthier cholesterol levels: Scientists have shown that one specific vegetarian diet can lower cholesterol almost as well as treatment with medication. Levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol that causes clogging in coronary arteries, fell by almost 30 percent in participants who followed the diet. This was only slightly lower than those who used lovastatin alongside their usual diet. The diet consisted of almonds, soy proteins, high-fiber foods such as oats and barley, and a special margarine with plant sterols, found in leafy green vegetables and vegetable oils.
Lower risk of developing cancer: Research shows that, overall, vegetarians have a lower risk of many different types of cancer, compared with meat eaters. However, the same study found a higher incidence of colon cancer among vegetarians.
A vegetarian diet has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular risk factors. Studies have found that the more meat people consume, the higher their risk of type 2 diabetes. Vegetarian food tends to be lower in fat, especially saturated fats, and higher in fiber, than animal-based foods. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that a vegetarian diet can benefit people of all ages.” Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”
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